Clay and Gravel
Mar 12, 2015
After sitting in a car for the 5 hours it took to get there, watching signs
whip by and periodically nodding off, you’d roll through the provincial
park’s front gates and feel the gravel road beneath you. The sound was
crunchy and comforting.
By some magic of your parents’ planning, you’d ended up here, this wild,
For my family, that place was Bon Echo.
In about ten minutes, you had already transitioned from Toronto
city-slicker to rabid wildchild - there were things to see, places to go!
How could you be expected to hang around and unpack with all these
wonderful things to do? Set up our tent?! That can wait.
Alas, you had to stay. Frustrated, you rigged the tent and emptied the car,
anticipation fiercely building all the while. You knew the drill – every
year, there was a race. The four families started at the same time, and as
soon as you were finished, you sprinted to the beach. The parents acted as
‘inspectors’ making sure you weren’t just quick; you were precise.
There was this one section of beach on Lake Mazinaw that everyone knew
about because of the thick clay settled at the bottom of the water. We’d
dive to the bottom to see who could haul the biggest chunk up to the
surface, depositing them on the sand.
The stronger older kids were always better at it, but we sure as hell
competed. An hour later, with a 4 foot pile of clay, we’d flop down on the
beach and look at our handiwork. Kids from other families would walk over
with wide eyes and wider grins, admiring what our team had done.
Then came the body painting. We’d turn ourselves into tribal warriors,
covering every inch of our bodies with clay, like a feral muddy blue-man
group. We let out roars and acted out fight scenes. Somehow, nobody ended
The clay escapades were a simple pleasure.
You'd get this feeling at the end of it all, and it just lasted a moment;
when you looked at your clay-caked arms and the war-paint mud on your best
friend's face, you just felt right.
You felt like you belonged, and it had nothing to do with your outside life.
You felt animal.
'Animal' doesn't mean violent, or aggressive per se - it just meant you
finally were able to let go of all the other things that you care about and
worry about and wonder about.
It didn't matter what the future held, because you could handle it.
The world around you made sense in an inherent, implicit way.
There were more moments like that.
Out in the huge field, stargazing for hours.
Watching shooting stars by the rocky part of the lake’s shore at night.
Hauling a canoe across land during a portage.
Hikes alone when you’d slip away from the group.
You didn't think - you just were.
Thanks for that, Bon Echo.
Originally submitted by Isaac Baronikian